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Lisa Black

There is a growing need for patients to have access to medications from an emergency department outpatient pharmacy. A technical report published in the June 2023 issue of Pediatrics (published online May 30) titled “Dispensing Medications at the Hospital Upon Discharge from an Emergency Department” lays out the evidence for this to be a part of standard care. Many emergency department visits are unplanned and occur when community pharmacies are not open. Families may be limited in their ability to get prescriptions filled immediately for treatment of acute conditions based on lack of transportation, language barriers, health literacy, cultural barriers or discordance with providers, patient understanding of treatment plans, and agreement with treatment plan. This means the resources spent on emergency care will not result in optimal outcomes and the emergency care safety net will be significantly compromised. The AAP states that the challenges to prompt medication availability would be alleviated with access to an around-the-clock pharmacy within an emergency department. Approximately one-third of patients fail to obtain priority medications from an off-site pharmacy after being discharged from an emergency visit. This new technical report presents the need to consider involving care coordination and social work at the time of discharge to help patients and families, particularly those who are uninsured or do not have a medical home. Another benefit of dispensing medications at the site of service is that the inability to pay can be identified immediately and a no-charge compassionate care provision can be applied to provide patients with the needed medications. Lastly, supplying medications from an emergency outpatient pharmacy gives health care providers additional opportunities to reinforce medication instructions and their importance, including the use of low-literacy materials that ensure families understand what they should do to administer medications safely to children once they get home.


The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 67,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults.

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